As I have shared the Redwood City Public Library service priorities for this years with various people, the most frequent question I've been asked is "What is the Human Library?" Piloting a Human Library program is one of the Library's actions to support the community aspiration to help Redwood City be welcoming and inclusive, celebrate the diversity of our population, and enjoy a friendly, neighborly community spirit.
Started in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2000, the Human Library is a program in which participants have the opportunity to "borrow" a person for a conversation, much in the way people borrow a book to read (although not for three weeks at a time!) The goal of the program is to build a positive framework for conversations to challenge stereotypes and prejudices through one on one conversations. Over the course of a day, the collection of "human books" is available for 15-20 minute conversations, and participants can sign up for an appointment with the human or humans of their choice.
The humans available for conversations have stories to tell about their lives, and are willing to answer questions from community members through these one-on-one conversations. When San Diego Public Library held a Human Library program in 2017, their humans included a Muslim, a triple amputee, a veteran, a homeless advocate, a refugee, a transgender individual, and more. The idea is to foster communication between individuals who might not have an opportunity to interact with each other on a daily basis.
The Library is currently working on building its "collection" of humans, so if you or someone you know has a story to tell and might be willing to share it in this context, please reach out to Serena Gregorio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the full
Spectrum Magazine article
, page 21.